PAUL SMITHS - Margaret Smith of Long Lake is helping guard the Adirondack Park against the spread of invasive species this summer.
Smith, a student at Hamilton College, is a steward for the Watershed Stewardship Program. That Paul Smith's College-led initiative protects rivers, lakes and other waterways against invasives and teaches boaters how to keep an eye out for problems.
Invasive plants and animals such as Eurasian watermilfoil, zebra mussels and spiny water flea pose a growing threat not just to area waterways but also to the economies of Adirondack communities. When invasives take hold in a body of water they can displace native species and rapidly multiply, making waterways impassible to motorboats and hurting tourism and other industries.
Smith and the other watershed stewards attended a training session at Paul Smith's College in May before starting their duties on Memorial Day.
Stationed at boat launches across the Adirondacks, the stewards conduct voluntary inspections for invasives on boats entering and leaving the water. They remove any they find, and convey the importance of clean boats, clean gear and clean waters to boaters.
The program runs through Labor Day.
The Watershed Stewardship Program is part of the Adirondack Watershed Institute at Paul Smith's College, which is dedicated to protecting waterways and ecosystems across the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.